Few things have the potential to ruin your pet rat experience than allowing them to chew on wires. For you, a rat chewing on wires can lead to all manner of electrical problems from wired connections being cut to frayed wires exposing electrical currents and starting fires on your property.
For the rat, the consequences of chewing on a wire can be dire as well. In the best case, they may get sick from eating the rubber, copper, and other materials that make up the wire; in the worst-case scenario, they may get electrocuted and die.
You don’t want any of that to happen, which is why you need to make sure that you do everything in your power to keep your pet rat from chewing on electrical wires. Unfortunately, that can be easier said than done.
Pet rats can seem drawn to wires like a moth to a flame, with disastrous results for both of you. That’s why you’ll want to heed the below tips to save your wires from your rat and vice versa.
Why Rats Chew Wires
You might well wonder why your pet rat seems to have a death wish. Why on Earth would they want to chew something that doesn’t exactly taste that great, and could shock or kill them at that?
There are actually myriad reasons why rats chew wires, not the least of which being that wires tend to be located in the spots where rats are most likely to hide, namely, dark and sheltered areas.
From the wiring in your walls to a tangle of wires behind your TV, these spots are typically darker and more closed off, making them ideal rat hiding places. Once there, they simply start getting ideas about this big mass of chewable wires in front of them.
In addition, rats and mice tend to chew on things regularly to keep their teeth from growing too much, the same way that you get a haircut to keep your hair from growing too long. If not wires, they’ll chew on something else, such as plastic, rubber, or wood.
That being said, wires are a perfect fit for rats’ chewing needs. For one thing, they offer both enough resistance to help them keep their teeth in check while not being too hard.
In desperate situations, rats will even chew on cement to try to keep their teeth from overgrowing; however, this obviously risks them damaging their teeth, a danger they won’t face with rubber and copper in wires.
What’s more, wires’ long, thin shape makes them easy for rats to grasp. Just as hamsters like to chew on wooden sticks, rats like to do the same. Wires are both the same basic shape and easy to chew.
1 – Seal Entry Points
You may think that keeping your rat in its cage is your last resort, but even then, some rats tend to be escape artists and somehow make their way out and hide throughout the house.
First and foremost, you’ll want to make sure that you make it as hard as possible for rats to get into spaces with wiring. This means patching up any holes that may allow your rats easy access to these areas.
Naturally, how this goes will depend in part on how much space you want to patch and how much is necessary. If you don’t have a ton of wiring in a certain part of the house, you probably don’t need to pay that much attention there.
Even so, any spot with a hole should be plugged up, since all it takes is one hole and one wire to get your rat into dire straits. Any gap larger than about a quarter-inch should be plugged up with caulk or whatever material you deem best.
In addition, you’ll also want to keep any doors leading to rooms with electrical wiring closed.
2 – Assert Yourself
Hilarious as it may seem that you may need to “assert yourself” vs. a tiny rat, it may be one of the best ways to get your rat to stop chewing. If your rat is already chewing, they may think that they can just get away with it.
By asserting yourself, you’ll demonstrate your dominance and stop their chewing. Make a noise, beat your chest, and do whatever you have to do to get your rat’s attention and show them that you mean business when you tell them not to chew those wires.
That said, you need to make sure you strike a balance between dissuading your rat and scaring them out of their wits. Rats are also stress chewers, so if you scare them too much, they’ll simply feel the need to chew on something to work out that stress, and that something could well be a wire, especially if it’s already at hand.
3 – Repel Them with Strange Smells
Rats don’t like strange smells and for them, a mothball is about as strange as it gets. While they are used to kill certain insects, their powerful odor can also serve as a strong means of dissuading rats from going into a certain place, including any areas where there are wires.
Simply place a few mothballs around the wires and your rat should steer well clear of them. If you don’t want to risk using mothballs, there are plenty of other natural anti-rat odors that can dissuade your rat from going places they shouldn’t be, including:
- Peppermint oil
- Castor oil
- Citronella oil
- Crushed pepper
4 – Use Sound to Scare Them Away
Remember how beating your chest and making noise to “assert yourself” was one possible way of scaring your rat off from your wiring? Well, the same idea works here, minus you feeling embarrassed for beating your chest like Tarzan.
As with smell, a rat’s sense of sound is one of their most powerful means of experiencing the world. If they hear something that frightens or bothers them, chances are they’ll scurry away in a hurry. That’s why you might want to make use of sound triggers such as an alarm that goes off when your rat comes too close to the wiring.
On the one hand, this is probably impractical to put at every spot in your home where there’s wiring. Not only is that a lot of money to spend and installation work but this’ll likely mean that you, your rat, and any other pets or family members will be triggering the alarm every few minutes.
On the other hand, if you have a particularly dangerous cluster of wires somewhere in your home, this can be a powerful means of keeping your rat from chewing there.
5 – Make Sure That They’re Getting Enough to Eat
While rats tend to chew as a stress-coping mechanism or simply to keep their teeth in check, there’s also the obvious possibility that they may just be hungry. If that’s the case, you have a relatively easy answer in front of you: feed your rats.
Of course, you don’t want to have to resort to this solution every time. For one thing, you’ll end up with a fat rat relatively quickly, to say nothing of how that can quickly cause your rat to be spoiled and trick you into more food by misbehaving and going for wires instead.
Still, if your rat keeps going for wires after you’ve tried a couple means of warding them off, you might want to check and see if you are feeding them enough for this stage in their life.
Remember, rats’ appetites grow with them, so portions that may have been adequate earlier in their lives may not be enough for them now.
6 – Use Mesh
Another useful method for keeping your rat away from wires and other places they shouldn’t be is to install some mesh nearby. This can keep them from passing into the area while still leaving it open enough for you. Rats cannot remove mesh, while humans can easily move it aside if need be.
What’s more, some mesh is installed with a gate that you can operate. Mesh fences come in different heights, so all it may take is a couple feet of mesh fencing to make sure that your rat can’t climb over it.
7 – Tape Things Off
Finally, you might want to consider putting electrical tape on the wires themselves. If your rats have already started to chew on wires, you should put some electrical tape over the affected area immediately so as to ensure that any frayed wiring is completely concealed.
You should never allow any frayed wiring to be exposed, especially when the power is on. Electrical wiring has a double benefit as far as protection from rat chewing is concerned. First, it adds another layer for a rat to chew through, making it even harder for them to do so.
Second, the chemical makeup of materials used in electrical wire can produce a “burning” sensation in a rat’s mouth as though they just ate something way too spicy for them, thus dissuading them from chewing there further.
By following these quick and easy steps, you can short circuit your rat’s wire chewing habit and protect them and your home’s electrical systems.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems and over 10 years of experience working in IT. I have a wife and two children and love taking them to the zoo to see all the animals. I grew up with dogs and fish and now have two dogs and two cats. I’ve also played guitar for almost 20 years and love writing music, although it’s hard to find the time these days.